The postponement of the Youth Olympic Games in Dakar to 2026 gives organisers a "unique opportunity to further optimise their delivery plans", International Olympic Committee (IOC) Coordination Commission chair Kirsty Coventry has claimed.
Speaking following two days of meetings between the Coordination Commission and Dakar 2026, Coventry said that promising progress had so far been made and highlighted the unusual position the Organising Committee was in in having an additional four years to prepare for the event.
The IOC announced in July that the Summer Youth Olympic Games in the Senegalese capital had been pushed back from 2022 until 2026 in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
"We’re encouraged to see the progress being made by the team in Dakar during what has been an incredibly difficult period for humanity," Coventry, a seven-time Olympic medalist representing Zimbabwe in the swimming pool, said.
"This has been made possible by the solidarity shown across the Olympic Movement and through the support from stakeholders - further evidence that we are stronger together.
"Dakar 2026 now have a unique opportunity to further optimise their delivery plans, implementing efficiencies that will deliver Games fit for a post-corona world.
"It will be an event by, for and with the youth.
"Whilst the road may seem long and full of challenges, we look forward to supporting their efforts as part of a 'one-team' approach, focused on delivering the first Olympic event in Africa in six years’ time."
The postponement means that recommendations from the IOC's Olympic Agenda 2020 and New Norm reforms can be better integrated into the planning for Dakar 2026, it is hoped.
The Organising Committee has also established working groups to examine engagement opportunities for local youngsters, training and sport-led positive transformation of Senegal.
It has also been agreed by the IOC and Dakar 2026 to use sporting events in the run-up to the Games as an opportunity to deliver educational projects and keep the public engaged with the 2026 Youth Olympic Games (YOG).
"With this postponement, the aim is to continue the excellent progress made so far, and to make the most of the four additional years," said Mamadou Diagna Ndiaye, President of the Senegalese National Olympic and Sports Committee and like Coventry an IOC member.
"Emphasis will be placed on a large-scale mobilisation of youth from all regions of Senegal and their involvement in the organisation.
"They will thus be able to benefit from the preparatory activities and feel connected to the great celebration of the YOG Dakar 2026."
Dakar was awarded the Games in 2018 and the IOC has been keen to stress the significance of it being the first Olympic event to take place in Africa.
When announcing the postponement, IOC President Thomas Bach claimed that organising five Games in three years - as would have been the case if the event in Dakar was staged in 2022, given the postponement of Tokyo 2020 - would have created a workload that was "too heavy".